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Intelligent Machines

Metal and Ceramic Origami Structures

A new printing and folding process could be used to make lightweight parts for planes.

Slideshow: The red cone at the top center of this image is a printhead used to make two-dimensional lattices of ceramic and metal inks. These lattices can be folded to create complex structures including cubes, spirals, and even an origami crane.
Slideshow: The printer (left) deposits ceramic and metal inks to create latticed sheets. At right are examples of planar patterns that can be made with this process.
Slideshow: This titanium hydride cube, shown under a scanning electron microscope before heating, was made by folding up a flat lattice.
Slideshow: This tube was made by rolling up a sheet of lattice-patterned titanium hydride ink. After heating, which removes solvents, a pure titanium metal structure is left behind. Such structures could be used in tissue engineering, since titanium is biocompatible.
Slideshow: This ceramic origami crane, made of titanium oxide and photographed after firing, demonstrates the versatility of the print-and-fold method.
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